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Court hears case for secret no-confidence vote on South Africa's Zuma

15 May 2017

Advocate Geoff Budlender has told the Constitutional Court that without a secret ballot it will be impossible to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable. She was the first woman to leader the African Union Commission, a role she ended in January.

Mpofu said his job was to convince this court that not having a secret ballot would be illogical in the totality of the circumstances.

"If that is so‚ what we have here is: The only person who is opposing the application that the motion of no confidence should be conducted by secret ballot is the president of the country‚" Mpofu said.

"One of the approaches we are going to take is to demonstrate that the secret ballot can not be prohibited‚" he argued.

"This case is not about separation of powers‚ nor encroachment of the court in anything".

The Justices also stressed their concerns with the UDM's argument that the vote should be done by secret ballot because of a possible "danger or intimidation" of members of Parliament.

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He said it was because of her leadership qualities that she was appointed as chairperson of the AU Commission in 2012 - a position she vacated previous year.

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema said there could never be true democracy without a secret ballot.

Baleka Mbete, the National Assembly speaker and a member of the ruling African National Congress, has said parliamentary rules don't allow a secret ballot.

"The logic underlying Section 86 applies with equal force to section 102 of the Constitution".

"Why is it that the Constitution prescribes a secret ballot?"

The president submitted that the UDM itself has admitted that there is no Constitutional mandate for the vote to be made in secret and so is not competent, adding that claims made by the party that MPs were being threatened are unfounded as they are not supported by any evidence.

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Anton Katz‚ SC‚ for the Inkatha Freedom Party‚ said every motion of no confidence should be dealt with by secret ballot.

The parties were marching to court from the square.

In an open ballot, votes by individual members of parliament (MPs) are cast electronically and you can see how each member voted.

In the end, whether Zuma stays or not remains in the hands of individual ANC MPs.

He also said the UDM had failed to invoke the Constitutional Court's exclusive jurisdiction to hear the case.

"Unless the Constitution or legislation limits this power or unless the speaker fails to adhere to the rules adopted by Parliament, the Constitutional Court will not interfere with the speaker's exercise of her discretion", writes de Vos.

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Court hears case for secret no-confidence vote on South Africa's Zuma